Former Ribbonwood Country Home resident the late Pat McCall has written stories about residents’ favourite animals.
The stories will be collated into a book called The Patchwork Farmyard and pupils from schools throughout West Otago have been asked to draw the characters.
The Ensign’s Sandy Eggleston reports on how the project came about.
Something that started as a ‘‘what if’’ conversation has developed into a project that involves all ages in the West Otago community.
Ribbonwood Country Home residents in Tapanui and school pupils are working together to publish a book called The Patchwork Farmyard.
The project is being coordinated by registered nurse Vicki Yarker-Jones (aka Vicki Purple), who works on a casual basis at the resthome.
Mrs Yarker-Jones said in June she had a conversation with residents about an imaginary scenario where rest-home residents made a patchwork quilt with animals on it.
She suggested the residents could write a book about what happened at night when the animals came alive and had adventures.
‘‘It came out of an idea and has just grown like Topsy. ‘‘Pat McCall took it on board with both hands.’’
Each time Mrs Yarker-Jones was on duty she had conversations with the residents about their favourite animals.
‘‘Then all of a sudden they had names and then all of a sudden Pat started coming up with these stories.
‘‘Eleven stories came to life, from Alfonso the bull, to Percy the peacock, to Jemima the pony.’’
Mrs McCall was enthusiastic about the project and involved new residents, Mrs Yarker-Jones said.
The animals were a popular topic of conversation but also opened up other subjects.
‘‘They got to know each other a lot better over those five weeks.
‘‘The book kind of held space for people’s stories.’’
Unfortunately, Mrs McCall’s health started to rapidly decline.
Mrs Yarker-Jones asked her friend Alice Muir, of Milton, to paint the characters, which Mrs McCall saw before she died in July.
These drawings will be displayed at the rest-home.
Mrs Yarker-Jones successfully applied to the Creative Communities Scheme for funding to get the book published and has asked KidzWay Early Learning Centre, Heriot, Tapanui, and Waikoikoi schools and Blue Mountain College to provide drawings.
‘‘It ended up being a really nice organic community collaboration to celebrate imagination [and] creativity.’’
It was special the project involved those starting out on their life journey and those coming to the end.
‘‘Everybody gets something out of it. ‘‘It doesn’t matter what age we are, we have value and we have imagination and if we collaborate together then we can become the best version of us and get to shine.’’
While not all the drawings will appear in the book, the art will be displayed at the West Otago A&P Show in November.
‘‘It’s going to be like a big patchwork exhibition.’’
This is also when the book, which will be printed by Ideal Print in Tapanui, will be launched.
Mrs McCall’s daughter Moira McCall-Corlett said her mother was ‘‘so excited’’ about the book.
‘‘She thoroughly enjoyed the whole process of writing stories and discussing stories.
‘‘This gave her a real buzz.’’
Resident Sadie Lietze said her favourite animal was a pony.
When she was working as a landgirl during World War 2 she had to catch and saddle four ponies every morning for children on the farm to ride to school.
One pony was ‘‘tricky’’.
‘‘[It] was not always easy to catch the cursed thing.’’
Mrs McCall wrote the story about the pony for Mrs Lietze’s 100th birthday in June.
West Otago Health manager Karen McHutchon said the project created a lot of interest among the residents and staff.
‘‘It was nice to get everyone on board for a mutual project.’’
It was also an example of the support the rest-home received from the community, she said.
Waikoikoi School principal Jacqui Dillon said Mrs McCall had taught at the school and her children attended the school so it was special to be able to take part.
‘‘I think it’s fabulous all the schools in the community are doing something with Ribbonwood.’’
It had also been an opportunity for art teacher Vicki Crawford to introduce pupils to Romero Britto, a Brazilian artist, who used shapes to create the effect of patchwork in his paintings.
Heriot principal Colin McHutchon said the school was pleased to be involved with the project. ‘‘It’s an opportunity to give back to the community [and] contribute more to building community.’’